I was hoping to bring you all the insider gossip, VIP handshakes and general Good Guys of Music World backslapping from the BBC Music Magazine Awards at Kings Place yesterday. These awards play the Lib Dems to the Gramophone Awards' New Labour: smaller, nicer, user-friendly, generally more enthusiastic, and rather often spot-on.
But I had to do an interview at 3.30pm, so dropped out, wondering why Semyon Bychkov's press attache seemed so disappointed when I told her. Then 3.30pm arrived and it turned out my interviewee's phone was out of juice. Interview moved to 4.30pm...and I found I could watch the entire ceremony on my computer via direct streaming. Maybe next year they can stream us lunch as well.
And it's a fine line-up indeed, headed by Bychkov's recording of Wagner's Lohengrin as Disc of the Year as well as winner in the Opera category (Johan Botha, Adrienne Pieczonka, Petra Lang, WDR SO, Cologne, Profil Hänssler PH 09004).
The Orchestral category was won by a recording featuring a violinist I hadn't heard of and can't spell, but she was there in person and performed an extract from Enescu's Impressions d'enfance most wonderfully. I'd voted for one of the other two shortlisted CDs, both of which were Hungarian - Ivan Fischer conducting the Budapest Festival Orchestra in Mahler 4, and Zoltan Kocsis wielding a baton over Bartok. But the winner is: Beethoven, Violin Concerto; Romances Nos 1 & 2; Violin Concerto in C - fragment; Patricia Kopatchinskaja (violin); Orchestre des Champs-Élysées/Philippe Herreweghe, Naïve V 5174.
The Choral winner is Verdi's Messa da Requiem, featuring soloists including Anja Harteros and Rolando Villazon, with the Orchestra and Chorus of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia/Antonio Pappano, EMI 698 9362.
And in Chamber it's the Jerusalem Quartet sizzling its way through Haydn. Kyril Zlotnykov, the cellist, made a very well-judged acceptance speech and didn't mention the Wigmore Hall. Haydn, String Quartets: in F minor, Op. 20/5; in C, Op. 33/3 in D, Op. 76/5, The Jerusalem Quartet, Harmonia Mundi HMX 2962030.
In Vocal, it's Tchaikovsky Romances, with Christianne Stotijn (mezzo-soprano) and Julius Drake (piano), Onyx 4034. I don't know how Jonas Kaufmann's Sehnsucht CD of German romantic opera didn't win - the Tchaikovsky must be something extremely special.
Three wonderful shortlisted discs in Instrumental resulted in a win for Beethoven's Piano Sonatas, Op. 14 Nos 1 & 2; Op. 26; Op. 28, Murray Perahia (piano), Sony 88697326462. Marvellous, though I wish Stephen Kovacevich's Diabelli Variations on Onyx could have won too.
Here are the Special Jury Awards:
Newcomer: Elias Quartet: String Quartets (Wigmore Hall Live WHLIVE0028)
Premiere: Imogen Holst String Chamber Music (Court Lane Music)
Technical Excellence: Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 2 "Lobgesang" Bergen Philharmonic, Andrew Litton BIS
DVD (Performance): Stravinsky and the Ballet Russes: the Firebird and the Rite of Spring, Gerviev, Mariinsky Theatre. Rite of Spring features the original choreography by Nijinsky and the original designs by Nicholas Roerich. [Question: how barking was Nijinsky? Mildly? Or totally?]
So, lots of wonderful listening ahead there, and I'll leave you with the list to explore as I'm off tomorrow to one of those strange and marvellous places with troubled histories... And places do not come much more strange and marvellous, or more troubled, than this one - in the present as well as the past. Hopefully I'll get back in one piece before very long. Ciaociao for now.
Jessica Duchen is a music journalist and the author of four novels, two biographies and several stage works. She writes regularly for The Independent and BBC Music Magazine. Her latest novel, Songs of Triumphant Love, is published by Hodder.
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